Autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: pharmacological intervention
The cardinal symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) -inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness- are not specific and may be found in the general population and in other disorders.
These symptoms are present in over 50% of patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).It thus seems quite clear that both problems can coexist in these patients.
The usual pharmacological treatments for ADHD, methylphenidate and atomoxetine, appear to be useful in reducing the above-mentioned symptoms in patients with ADHD and ASD.
Effectiveness seems to be lower in patients with ASD and tolerance is slightly poorer.
This may be conditioned by a number of variables, including: the complexity of ASD, association with mental retardation, polypharmacotherapy, and so on.
Given the long-term tolerance profile of methylphenidate and atomoxetine, these treatments appear to be a good alternative with which to improve the problems of attention and self-control these patients have. Nevertheless, further controlled studies are needed to confirm this proposition.